10 Easy Ways You Can Start Saving Money for the Holidays Now

Don't let gift-giving season sneak up on you. These expert tips can help you budget.

The holidays are right around the corner, and, chances are, your bank account isn’t ready. Well, it’s never too late (or too early) to get your finances in order and start saving for the holidays—and you don’t need to take drastic measures either.

In fact, simply being more intentional in your spending and taking the time to plan everything from meals to a gift-giving budget in advance can really help get your finances in order quickly.

Everyone wants to relax and enjoy the holidays, but money worries can ruin the whole season. Start planning now and you may be surprised at how much you can save in just a couple of months to make the holidays a lot more fun. An added benefit? You won’t be scrambling at the last minute to buy gifts and you won’t get hit with any big-ticket surprises. Follow these tips to start saving now.

1. Unsubscribe from retail emails, subscriptions, and discount sites

woman using phone on couch at night

Pause discount sites on social media and in your inbox. You don’t need the temptation to buy something you don’t need just because it’s a good deal. If you really can’t live without these sites, at least take the apps off your phone to reduce temptation.

This is also a good time to examine your recurring charges and see what you can trim. Look at any subscribe and save items you get delivered each month. If you have a stockpile already, pause your subscription. Chances are, you won’t miss anything. Cutting even a few can help you save for the holidays.

2. Negotiate down

See if you can renegotiate any of your monthly charges. Have your cable, cell phone or internet bills gone up recently? Spend a few minutes calling your providers and try to get a lower price. Long-term customers and those thinking about switching providers may have some luck talking their way into lower monthly bills.

3. Remove tempting shopping apps

Remove tempting apps that mak you just want to “buy things” from your phone. Do you open your go-to shopping app when you’re bored? Is it way to easy to order Uber Eats when you don’t feel like cooking? Then it’s time to change your habits, girl.

You can still shop and order in Italian, but those tasks will take an extra step that may convince you to go a more cost-effective route. Sometimes, that makes all the difference. If you can’t quite bring yourself to delete these apps, unlink your credit card. This will also force you to slow down and take an extra step before you hit “checkout.”

4. Use gift cards to help get your budget in line

woman on couch writing budgeting

Get gift cards for the necessities and don’t spend anything else. If you want to limit yourself to eating out only once a week, put some cash on a gift card to your favorite restaurant and use it to pay. Once the gift cards are tapped out, that’s your dining-out budget for the week.

You can apply this method to just about anything from Ubers to movies.

5. Make a meal plan

Cara Palmer, a financial education instructor, and founder of Cara Palmer Smart Money Tips, says that making a meal plan is a particularly effective way to save money leading up to the holidays. A good meal plan can help save $500 or more a month.

First, you are less likely to eat out if you don’t need to think about what to make for dinner every night or you already have a lunch planned for a day at the office. Second, you are less likely to buy things you don’t need and won’t use at the grocery store. Without a plan, you are more likely to come home from grocery shopping with food that just sits around or winds up in the trash.

10. Reconsider how you define gift-giving

Mark Williams, CEO of Brokers International, advises giving some thought to who you can trim from your list. Maybe you and your adult siblings always give each other lackluster gifts and it’s time to call it quits in order to just focus on your parents and kids.

You can also “make use of your creative side and look for opportunities to give handmade or personalized gifts — or gift experiences or events, like cooking a meal together,” says Williams.

7. Set a budget for gifts

piggy bank money holidays christmas

Steve Rose, CEO of  MoneyTransfers.com recommends setting a budget now for holiday spending. Determine how much you will spend on gifts early to give yourself time to think of (and find) thoughtful gifts that fit your budget. The same applies to vacation and holiday meal planning.

8. Start setting aside pennies or dollars into a separate account

Bill Ryze, Chartered Financial Consultant at Fiona, suggests “raising” the money you need for the holidays by setting a target amount you want to save every week. Then, channel this amount into a separate account where you won’t be tempted to use it when things get tight.

9. Pay in cash

woman paying in cash at register

Financial Coach Michael Ryan thinks cash is king since ApplePay and credit cards are too easy to whip out. If you pay with cash, there is more effort involved and studies show people buy less when they use cash. In part, this is because you are literally watching what you spend as you turn over your hard-earned cash.

Using cash also forces you to plan in advance how much you are going to spend for the day. If you don’t have cash on you, then won’t be able to overspend. Plus, there are no big credit card bills surprising you at the end of the month and you won’t find yourself paying interest on your purchases.

10. Holiday shop early

Sudhir Khatwani of Money Mongers suggests making a list of presents you need to buy and start shopping now. That way, you can take advantage of Black Friday sales, end-of-season promotions and other deals. Starting early also gives you time to comparison shop for the best price and may save you expensive rush shipping fees.

As a bonus, once the holidays roll around you will already have most of your shopping done so you can relax and enjoy yourself while everyone else is fighting the crowds.

Jamie Davis Smith
Jamie is a mother of four, writer and attorney. Read more
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